Nas: Race Matters

Nas always has a wisdom to share and, in most cases, his thoughts are as interesting as any modern day scholar. This day, the rapper proves to be consistent - as always. The Street Disciple addresses the "Coon Picnic" controversy, "Vote or Die," and the myth of slavery, among other hot buttons. AllHipHop had a pair of editorials. One was for Nas and the other was against him and they both centered on “These Are Our Heroes (Coon Picnic).” In hindsight, do you think you were too hard on some of those guys?

Nas: I think I was too hard on them when you think of the commercialization of Hip-Hop. But, when you think of Hip-Hop, what I grew up listening to, I was too easy. I grew up listening to real n***as – N.W.A., KRS-One… They don’t play that s**t. Those teachers taught me, don’t play that s**t. What those guys represented, that is what Hip-Hop is. Hip-Hop today isn’t me dancing with a famous R&B singers, that’s not Rap. That’s great Black music, but that’s not Rap.

Rap is that s**t on the corner, that was free in the park, n***as getting their head shot off, wearing a fresh pair of Bally’s or a gold rope chain. Rap represents the 80’s and the cocaine invasion. Rap represents the streets that were ignored by the Grammy’s, ignored by people [that said] it’s not an art-form. Rap is a street corner conversation. So if you aren’t ready to hear me to talk about sellouts, then don’t say you like Rap. If you go to any street corner, they are saying worse than what I’m saying. Rap is the language of the streets, period. In this era where Rap music is now commercial, they forgot what Rap is. Nas isn’t about saying sellout on every record, but I’ma say Hip-Hop is not “Vote or Die.” That’s not Hip-Hop. No disrespect to Diddy and Russell and them – those are my heroes – but Hip-Hop is not “Vote or Die.” Why do you say that?

Nas: Hip-Hop is anti-establishment. Ice Cube and them were always that way. In order for Hip-Hop to change our point of view, it means for us to have a candidate that understands Hip-Hop. If you say “Vote or Die” then you [Diddy] are saying it’s all good that Anheuser Busch supports “Vote of Die,” a Republican beer association. [They have] Black laborers that are making nothing [and are] poisoning the whole f***in’ hood. Lets be real – vote or die, but let’s vote for who? You say Lincoln freed the slaves, then you still a slave. The Black man freed himself. And we were never slaves. They tried to put us in a slavery condition. What is a slave? Not my ancestors. My ancestors were men and women that were put into a slave condition, but we weren’t slaves. “I don’t know how the f**k I got way over there [America].”

I don’t believe in vote or die, because we are talking about the same people that tried to dismantle Rap just 10 years ago. Who were trying to influence on stockholders to pull out of Warner, who made Ice-T not have a job…they cut him and shut him down. They shut Hip-Hop down. C. Delores Tucker, Al Gore…all these people were trying to shut Hip-Hop down. Now you want us to sponsor you to get these Black votes? F**k you. Do you believe CoinTelPro [FBI Investigation] is in Hip-Hop?

Nas: Absolutely, on a much advanced level. On the other side, there’s a lot of Rap battles going out of control. It’s not healthy like you and Jigga, Canibus and LL,LL and Kool Moe Dee, Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee. You think that these days we're holding ourselves back?

Nas: Absolutely, n***as hatin’ on n***as. It’s not far-fetched. It’s reality. It’s the streets. If people in the streets [are] doing it, why are they gonna stop when they rap? It’s unfortunate, but it happens. At this point in the game, it shouldn’t be like that. Is Scarlet [the female rapper from Streets Disciple] real?

Nas: It’s creative writing man, just trying to do something different.